Saturday, August 2, 2014

Shutting up shop indefinitely

  Big announcement time huh? To cut a complicated story short, i've started a nursing degree, full-time externally. And i'm really, really enjoying it. I've wanted to go back to study for years, i'm a big geek and am insanely happy with my head in a textbook. But six weeks in and i've realised i'm really not going to be able to 'do it all'-so Pepper Place has to stop. It's a painful realisation, after seven years, but i've been putting it last for quite a while now-better to not do it at all than do it as haphazardly as I have been.

  So that's it-thankyou to everyone who has supported me over the last seven years. If you have questions about the tutorials etc i've posted here please feel free to ask, but I won't be making anything to sell. Goodbye!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Huge sale time

  How does 30% off everything sound? Fantastic, right? Well, if you go to my Etsy store and enter the code SOLSTICE30 at checkout that’s the discount you’ll get!

  I’m also uploading a stack of random nappies, fabric etc direct to facebook. Again, it’s all heavily discounted, so please take advantage of a great bargain and help me downsize!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Hand-dyed, newborn fitted nappies now available!

  Newborn nappies are a project I started on, then put aside for um, six years. Recently I had the urge to pull my old patterns out and finish it all off-maybe it’s due to the fact that friends seem to be having babies and announcing pregnancies left, right, and centre. Now, I have a gorgeous selection of low-water immersion dyed bamboo fitteds available on Etsy.


  From start to finish these were handmade with the utmost care-from pattern design and fabric choices, through to sewing and dyeing, making them eminently suitable to use on your precious new addition.

  The nappy is made from heavyweight bamboo fleece (80% bamboo/20% organic cotton) to give a silky soft feel with high absorbency. The outer fitted is double-layered, with a triple-layered contoured lay-in booster. The hip snap design leaves no bulk over their belly-button while being easy to change on a wriggly, frog-like baby. Leg ruffles and a high back give extra security against leaks. More absorbency can be added to the nappy if you're lucky enough to have a baby who sleeps long enough to need it!

tie dyed newborn bamboo cloth nappies diapers14

  After sewing is complete, each nappy is hand-dyed in fibre-reactive dyes, meaning every nappy is unique. As a bonus, after their thorough washing they're ready to wear straightaway, with no prewashing or other preparation needed.

  As the nappy is entirely absorbent, it will require a cover or more regular changing. My OSFM pocket nappies and covers in my Etsy shop can be used successfully over these fitted nappies, and I also stock pure wool, handknit longies that I sell at a bricks 'n' mortar store, as well as raw silk liners-if you're interested in these, please contact me for details.



Narrowest Crotch Width (excluding ruffles)-9cm


tie dyed newborn bamboo cloth nappies diapers08  

  A note about umbilical cord scoops-The omission of an umbilical cord scoop was, like every other aspect of my designs, carefully considered. The majority of users I asked found cord scoops to be awkward, bulky, and generally superfluous-keeping the nappy looser around the waist until the cord fell off was seen to be just as effective. As always, I have decided to keep things as simple and streamlined as possible, and so have not included a scoop.

  You can see all of the colourways currently available on my Etsy store, and there will be more direct-dyed nappies listed in the next few weeks. Enjoy!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Striped tie-dyed pants-a Pepper Place tutorial


  This tutorial uses the same method as my scrumple tie-dyed pants tutorial-just a different fold. It’s another one that’s simple enough for beginners, with not too many steps and easily reproducible results. If you’re interested in dye, I sell starter packs on my Etsy store, and if you would like the instructions I provide with the packs to see how they work, please contact me for a PDF copy (it’s free!)


  To begin with, you need white or light pants, which are wholly or mostly made from natural fibres. I made these from 100% cotton pinwale cord.  Soak these in the soda ash solution, as detailed in my instructions, and dry them completely.


   Now, for the pleating. The width of your pleat will be the width of your stripes-here, i’m starting from the waistband and making regular pleats of around 8cms.

P8095176 P8095177

   Once you’ve fully pleated them, secure the pleats firmly with rubber bands or string.


  Mix up both colours of your dye and place in two separate containers, each large enough to accommodate the pants. You need enough dye to cover the bottom of your container to a depth of at least 2cm, and enough to saturate half of your pants. If in doubt, make more than you need-three cups of each should be plenty for any children’s pants/jeans. Dip the pants in. As they’re dry, they’ll suck up the dye quite quickly and it will continue to wick up the fabric even after you’ve removed it from the bath-for that reason do quick dips, and pull out and monitor the dye creep for 30 seconds before re-dipping.


    When you’re satisfied that the first colour is halfway up or a little over, dip into the darker dye and let it wick up to the lighter colour. Because i’m doing variations on the same colour (light and dark purple) i’ve only mixed the one lot of dye at the lighter concentration, and i’ll then add more dye powder to the same bath for the darker half. This is more economical, and less mess in the end.



Leave to cure, in a plastic bag if need be, then rinse well, wash and dry.


  And done! Place on wearer, and admire.


  Whetted your appetite? Click here for the rest of my dyeing tutorials.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Maclean Village Markets, Saturday 14th of December

  I’ll be at the gorgeous little town of Maclean this Saturday for their huge Christmas market-apparently there were over 75 stalls already booked last month!

pepper place tie-dye 

 I’ll have huge amounts of tie-dye, dozens of nappies, a table full of gorgeous knitted toys and clothes (from my nanna), and twirly skirts. I’ll be the one looking like i’ve escaped from the circus, as i’ve made myself an outfit that’s suitable for selling tie-dye in. Well, I can’t expect others to be adventurous when i’m in boring jeans and a t-shirt, can I?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Dyeing doilies-a tutorial

  After a few big, complicated tutorials, I thought it was time for something a little less overwhelming for those less enthusiastic than me. Not everyone wants to combine multiple crafts in the same project, or spend hours completing it, so here’s some straight dyeing.


 I dyed these table runner sized doilies for my kids recently-we put a white bookshelf in each of their bedrooms and they looked a little plain. These draped over the top and sides brighten it up a bit, and give a more stable base for the knick-knacks they display on the top of the shelf. I voted for multi-coloured, but they wanted solids.

  The runners were bought at op-shops for a few dollars each. Generally, all old doilies you’ll find are cotton, but they’re never tagged so it may be a gamble if you can’t tell by feel. I used what I call the dry dyeing method, which I find to be a quicker, easier way to obtain solid colours that the traditional vat dyeing way-and it uses a lot less dye, salt and soda ash to achieve the same or brighter results.

  I soaked them in soda ash solution, then dried them completely. I find drying them leads to stronger, more uniform colours. When dry I mixed up 1.5 cups of warm water with 2 tsps of Procion dye in each colour, and poured each into its own container. I dropped the doilies in, mixed them around with a knitting needle until they were completely coloured, then lidded the containers. I left them for 24 hours, stirring occasionally.

Then I rinsed them out thoroughly, and handwashed them with plenty of laundry powder. I don’t think doilies would hold up very well to a machine wash. After air-drying in the shade, they were ready to go.

  Been inspired to try this? Please leave your link in the comments! Like what you see? Take a look at my Etsy shop to see what I have in stock-I sell dye packs that will enable you to recreate this project!

Making raw silk liners

  Raw silk liners are fantastic for helping to prevent and heal nappy rash. It’s ‘raw’ because it hasn’t been stripped of its natural oils (just like raw wool still has lanolin on it). The waxy substance, called sericin, that the silkworms leave behind is reputed to be soothing and healing. And if you like to use natural fibres, these are the only wicking liners suitable for you.

  First off, you need raw silk. I bought mine from Nappies Covered, and like everything i’ve bought from there, it hasn’t disappointed me.
raw silk

The rougher, bumpier weave of raw silk-not exactly what you picture when you think ‘silky’! Nevertheless, it’s very soft and pliable. It does smell strangely, but not very strongly (and with its intended use, it really doesn’t matter!)

raw silk outlines

First up, draw your outlines onto the fabric. Mine are 28 x 8cm with nicely rounded edges. I don’t leave any seam allowance for overlocking, as I find it much easier and neater to overlock onto a cut edge when working with steep curves. You may prefer to shear 1cm or so off as you go-remember to allow for it.

DSCF7607Cut out to size.
overlocking raw silk liner1

Now for the edging. I’ve got it set to three-thread wide, with a short stitch length. Note the edge at precisely where the looper threads meet. I also drop the knife, so I don’t accidently chop something. If you want to stay all-natural, use silk or cotton thread.

overlocking raw silk liner2
As you come up to the corners, you need to have the edge of the fabric at the right width from the needle. This is why I cut to size and drop the knife-the knife is too far from the needle for tighter corners.
  Overlap the stitching 1cm when you reach the beginning, lift the foot and needle and carefully lift the stitches from the machine. You can trim the thread ends left from the beginning of the stitching, and I knot the ones from the end and thread them through the loops.

raw silk edging

  Done! A nice neat edge that will prevent fraying for the life of the liner.

  Care: To preserve the sericin and prevent shrinking, these must be handled carefully. Handwash gently in warm water with a small amount of mild detergent, and hang in the shade to dry. With proper care, they will last you many changes. If you accidently machine wash them, they will still act as a wicking liner-however, the amount of sericin will be greatly reduced, and so will the healing capabilities.

  Don’t want to make them yourself? I usually have them in stock-please check my Etsy store, or contact me.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Crocheting a hand-dyed rag rug-a tutorial


  I’ve recently become obsessed with sheets as yarn. They’re extremely cheap to buy at op-shops, they tear easily into strips, and they take dye very well. What’s not to love? My first project was a small rug for our house-with only floorboards here it can be cold and uncomfortable for the small ones who want to play toys on the floor. And with very little in the way of possessions after so many interstate moves, it’s time to start making a home.


-sheets. I used two flat sheets, one king and one queen  for a 84cm diameter rug. If you’re dyeing them with Procion you’ll need as high a natural fibre content as you can find. The tags on mine were faded but they ‘felt’ like natural fibre-one must have had a small synthetic component as they dyed slightly different colours.

-dye. I use Procion dyes, and I sell kits here if you’d like to try one out.

-crochet hook. A 12mm one worked well with 1” strips.

-hand-sewing needle. For sewing down the ends of the strips, as they’re too chunky to weave in.

-sewing machine. For sewing the strips together to make your giant yarn ball. You could use the above hand-sewing needle if you don’t own a machine.

 Making your Sheet Yarn

  Take your sheets and cut the hems off all sides. Decide how wide you’d like the strips to be (I did 1”), mark each interval, then snip at each mark to begin your strips. Now grab the first one, and rip it off. Being a woven fabric, it should rip in a satisfyingly straight line-if it does seem a bit askew, discard that strip and rip the next-that one will be ‘straight’, or at least parallel to the first one.P7094893

  When you’re knee-deep in your strips, start sorting. Because I was working in the round, I knew i’d need more strips of the outer colour than the inner to make it look balanced-otherwise i’d have had a huge spot of yellow in the middle and the brown wouldn’t have made it around once. I sorted them by putting seven strips of each intended colour into a pile, then adding two strips to each pile except the inner colour, then two strips to each except the inner two colours, then two to each except the inner three colours………….i’m sure I don’t need to explain any further. At the end, I added the remnant strips to the outer colour piles (brown/green/blue). Make an effort to mix up your different sheets-even if they have the same fibre content they’ll most likely differ in coarseness, weave, or something else that could affect the final result.

  I then sewed each bundle of strips end-to-end to make one long strip for each colour, winding into a ball as I went. You could be extra-OCD and match your thread colour to the colour you’re going to dye that bundle if you’re using a non-natural fibre thread, but I was lax and did them all white polyester. You can’t tell on the finished product.


  As I finished each roll I labelled them very carefully. You can see the progression in the sizes of the balls between yellow (inner colour) and brown (outer colour).


Then it was time to wind into skeins, ready to dye. The youngest child found winding skeins sufficiently interesting to leave his playdough and help me, and I tied each skein loosely with scrap yarn in three places.




  I vat-dyed them using Procion-as i’ve written comprehensive instructions to provide with my dye packs I won’t repeat them here. If you’d like a copy i’m happy to email them to you (no purchase required)-just ask me.


   Once they were all done, I sewed the colours in order and we rolled it into a really, really big ball of yarn-note comparison with the husband’s hands. It was about the size of a basketball and very dense and heavy-we had a bit of fun throwing it around.



  After some experimenting with the first rounds I settled on crocheting a simple pentagon, as it seemed to be the most amenable shape for the bulk of the yarn. You must start with the Magic Loop method, not a chained circle, to reduce the bulk. Anyone who has made a granny square can make a pentagon, as they’re essentially the same, but with five repeats around the round instead of four. The chart below shows one-fifth of the pentagon.

Crochet pentagon chart  

  This is for all five repeats in the round, except the beginning of the first one-crocheters will know that you have to join your yarn to finish the previous round, then chain to make up the height of the stitches, which then counts as your first stitch. Clear as mud? Maybe this diagram will help.

crochet diagram turning chain

  The wording for the transition between rounds is this “ch2, sl st into top of turning chain, ch3 (counts as first dc), dc into same stitch, dc into next stitch” etc. All it means is that when you get to the end of a round slip stitch to finish it off, ch 3 to count as the first dc, then carry on your merry way.

  It will grow very quickly, being such bulky yarn. When I reached the end of a brown round and knew I didn’t have enough yarn for another full round, I cut it off and threaded it through the last stitch. Then I sewed the end of the yarn down securely, hiding it in a stitch below, and trimmed it neatly. I did the same with the yarn strand from the beginning, and it was done.


Other ideas-when you sew it all together you can’t predict when the colours will change-odds are it’ll be in the middle of the round, like mine. If you’d like your colours to change with your rounds, don’t sew them all together. Use the balls as separate colours and change as needed. It’ll look neater, but I sort of like the random look.

  You don’t need to dye sheets. Pick plain or patterned sheets and mix them all up together for a crazy look, or stick to one colour theme for a more sedate look (I don’t think i’ve ever wanted a sedate look, so you’re on your own with that one).

  Use your sheet yarn for other projects-i’m making bunting next. Then a chevron rug…………and i’ll probably post tutorials for those too.

  Made your own? Please share! Link to your pictures in the comments, or upload them to the Pepper Place show-off album.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Scrumple tie-dyeing pants-a tutorial

    tie-dyed pants tutorial
  I bought some white pinwale cord fabric on clearance recently, and decided to make my girls some really BRIGHT pants. Here’s how. I’m using Procion dyes-I assume that you have basic knowledge of how to use them. If not, I sell dye kits with full PDF instructions, and if you’d like the instructions only to see how they work please email me and i’ll send them to you. No strings attached!
   First up, you need white pants, made from a cellulose-based fibre. A little bit of synthetic is OK. Note that if they are sewn with synthetic thread this won’t dye-I sewed these pants with a coordinating colour. Soak them in your soda ash/salt solution, then hang them to dry. You want them completely dry, so they’ll really suck up the dye and give you vibrant results.
  Lay them flat on a firm surface, and start scrunching. (I should be wearing gloves. I always forget when they’re dry.) Grab a handful of fabric and scrunch it up. Hold it in place with your thumb and palm, jump your fingers forward and pull the next crumple up. You’re aiming to finish with a nice tight disk, with an even distribution of fabric between front and back. Think of it as pleating, but without the straight lines-you want an even depth all over, with a flattish top and bottom.
When your crumpled part gets larger, hold it in place with one hand while you push the loose fabric toward it with the other, still aiming to keep the scrunches random and around the same depth.
P8095157   P8095169   
Band your bundle (you may need an extra set of hands here).  You’re aiming to hold the folds in place, but don’t go so tight that your disk wants to cave in on itself. Keep it flat.
   Mix up a small amount of dye-for these size 8-9 pants I used 1.5 cups of water with 2 tsps of Procion. I’m using green here, for the blue and green pants-I do the lighter colour first. Pour it into the bottom of a shallow container. Around 1cm deep is fine-you want the pants to wick, or soak up the dye slowly to the point you want it.
Drop your pants in. You’ll notice they start wicking the dye up right away. Give them a gentle push from above all over to make sure all of the bottom layer comes into contact with the dye. As it’s your lighter colour can leave them in until the dye creeps up to about halfway up the sides of your bundle-it will continue to spread when you take it out. Usually, having the lighter areas slightly bigger than the darker areas gives you a better visual balance of colours on the finished item-otherwise the dark colour can overpower the lighter one.
Lift them out and let them drip out the excess, holding them dye side down.
  Now for colour number two, the darker-in this case, blue. Do the same thing-pour your mixed dye into a shallow container, drop the pants in dry side down, and press gently to help the uptake of dye. When the second colour has wicked up the the level of the first, they’re done. You can pull them out a little earlier if you want more white in the finished product, or leave them a little longer if you want no white at all.
P8095191   Take them out, and let the excess drain.
Sit them, dark side down, onto a rack of some sort. This is a gate we scavenged, and until we have somewhere to use it as a gate i’ve commandeered it. Leave the dye to set, for at least two hours but preferably overnight. Make sure they don’t dry out-once they’re well-drained pop them into a plastic bag if need be. I throw a tarpaulin over all of my stuff (there’s usually lots) and leave it overnight.
   The next day-wow, they’ve changed colour completely! Alright, so I didn’t take photos of this part with the blue/green pants, but i’m sure you’ll understand it with the pink/purple. Rinse them with cold water, still keeping the lighter side up. After a few minutes it’s time to untie, and see what you’ve created……………
Voila! Your pattern is revealed. Keep rinsing (a fence or clothes horse is handy for this) until the water is clear, or nearly so. Then hot wash them with double the soap, hang to dry and they’re ready to wear.
  My three rainbow girls, ready to go out for the day. I fully expect that when they hit their teenage years, they’ll rebel by wearing black or grey. It would be fitting. I’ll show you how to do the stripey variation another day.
  Feel free to take this method and add your own twist-add more colours, use the same method on t-shirts or jackets (it makes really funky towels), use resists-experiment! If you do try it out, please share your pictures on my Facebook album dedicated to customer and fan showing off. I love to see your work!


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